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Illinois, The Onion partner to push health insurance

A copy Oniis seen news rack San Francisco. | JustSullivan/Getty Images

A copy of the Onion is seen in a news rack in San Francisco. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Updated: March 12, 2014 6:21AM



Looks like President Barack Obama’s health care plan is about to get funny.

Get Covered Illinois announced a partnership with the creative services division of The Onion on Monday, with a goal of getting young people to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Illinois says it is the first state to partner with Onion Labs, which creates content for the Chicago-based fake-news and entertainment website The Onion.

Beginning Monday, The Onion is running banner ads on its website featuring a man who is forced to sell his action figures to pay his medical bills because he failed to get health coverage, Get Covered Illinois said. The Onion also will create a video, an editorial and a custom “news” section about Get Covered Illinois that will appear online as the March 31 enrollment deadline nears.

The Onion audience is comprised of mainly young adults between ages 21 and 34 — the same group the Affordable Care Act is trying to get to buy insurance plans through the law in order to keep health plans’ premiums from rising.

Figures released in January by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that buyers in Illinois and nationwide have so far skewed older.

“We know that to effectively reach Young Invincibles — who are 53 percent of our uninsured residents in Illinois — we have to work with non-traditional, and especially digital, sources for news and entertainment,” said Jennifer Koehler, executive director of Get Covered Illinois. “That’s where The Onion fits right into our outreach strategy.”

Steve Hannah, chief executive officer of Onion, Inc., said the partnership will allow Onion Labs to “do what The Onion does best — create irreverent-yet-relevant comedy and put it to work for an organization that wants to reach millennials.”

An Onion spokesman said The Onion is not for or against the Affordable Care Act.

Get Covered Illinois is paying $150,000 as part of the partnership, with The Onion offering another $150,000 for the ads, a Get Covered Illinois spokeswoman said.

mjthomas@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MonifaThomas1



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